Archives For Citizen Journalism

The real story in this mess is not the threat that algorithms pose to Amazon shoppers, but the threat that algorithms pose to journalism. By forcing reporters to optimize every story for clicks, not giving them time to check or contextualize their reporting, and requiring them to race to publish follow-on articles on every topic, the clickbait economics of online media encourage carelessness and drama. This is particularly true for technical topics outside the reporter’s area of expertise.

And reporters have no choice but to chase clicks. Because Google and Facebook have a duopoly on online advertising, the only measure of success in publishing is whether a story goes viral on social media. Authors are evaluated by how individual stories perform online, and face constant pressure to make them more arresting. Highly technical pieces are farmed out to junior freelancers working under strict time limits. Corrections, if they happen at all, are inserted quietly through ‘ninja edits’ after the fact.

There is no real penalty for making mistakes, but there is enormous pressure to frame stories in whatever way maximizes page views. Once those stories get picked up by rival news outlets, they become ineradicable. The sheer weight of copycat coverage creates the impression of legitimacy. As the old adage has it, a lie can get halfway around the world while the truth is pulling its boots on.

via Anatomy of a Moral Panic


This is not The Onion.

Unveiled today, the Fox News Deck is where journalists will be on camera as they sift through posts on Twitter and Facebook to keep track of emerging news on GIANT 55-inch touchscreens.

It’s gaudy and cheesy, but certainly a physical manifestation of the importance newsrooms are putting on social media, citizen journalism and user-generated content.

Watch the video!

via Fox News Replaces Desks With Ridiculously Large Touchscreens.

Burning Man isn’t a way of escaping the social problems that accompany new technology. On the contrary, it is a a petri dish that intensifies and fosters some of the deeper conflicts. It is a case study for, among other things, a new media problem: that of ubiquitous cameras.

Photos are all too easy to take, and they find their way all too quickly to the internet, where they persist long afterwards. When we use some of our freedom to evade a social prescription in one world, we open ourselves up to being forced to cross that line in all worlds. It is as if, having uttered a curse word once, that word is recorded, and played back constantly in front of everyone we ever meet—our bosses, our priests, our children, and our grandparents.

We can argue the socially-defined and evolving boundary lines of all of these things, but what we cannot argue is consent. Consent existed before photography, and will exist long after X-Ray Specs are invented. There have always been assholes that look at a safe space as simply a possibility for exploitation. Consent has never been fully respected by society, nor by its technology. That is no reason to continue to ignore it. Consent is a person’s ability to control their own body, including its image, now and into the future.

The fact that we might never have had full control over our body is not a reason to deny its existence. That exploitation is a historical fact does not make it a future given. Regardless of what technology exists and on what spot on the earth you happen to be standing in, you can either choose to respect consent, or you can choose to violate it.

via Glassholes and Black Rock City.

“It’s my goal to be bringing in new technology to make sure that students are aware that, you know, digital tools are disrupting all of our jobs and we need to learn about them and we need to discuss them.

via Drake University Gets a Drone – ABC5 News Des Moines, IA.

I completely agree. Teaching the skill of lifelong learning and instilling a passion for what’s next is the best way to arm communications students — who otherwise will be learning tactical skills that may be outdated by their second job out of school — for success. Kudos DU.

Chris Snider of Drake University on why they bought a drone for the J-School

There was an important Supreme Court ruling early in the day. An international fugitive was possibly on a flight from Moscow to Cuba. The Dow was diving. But by midday in the nation’s capital on Monday, a red panda who disappeared from the National Zoo had hijacked the news cycle.

via A Parallel Search for a Missing Panda –

A survey of journalists shows 39 percent consider themselves “digital first,” meaning that they publish news as it breaks rather than waiting for the next print issue, which means 61 percent of journalists are still thinking about traditional channels. About half believe their biggest audiences are online, so perhaps that’s quelling the adoption a bit. I wonder how they define online?

(via Survey Shows How Journalists Really Feel About the Digital Evolution)

I got pretty amped about drone journalism this time last year, and it’s slowly catching on within grassroots media organizations and those looking for an affordable, accessible way to tell a story from the air (election protests in Russia, Improv Everywhere in NY).

You won’t see CNN or NBC with drones flying above the Presidential inauguration or next high-profile court case — this year. But it’s my bet major news organizations are going to adopt this technology very soon. It’s cheap. It’s nimble. And nevermind those pesky privacy laws, drones get you into spaces journalists typically have to break trespassing laws to view.

Personally, I’m still waiting for the client opportunity where we can buy a camera-mounted hexacopter drone to capture brand content for a client. But, they’re a little pricey… today. We’ll get there.

And that’s why I’m excited for this organization who is creating high resolution maps using low cost, DIY technology like kites, balloons and cheap digital cameras.

Their most impressive effort to-date was mapping the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf Coast. Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science’s (PLOTS) maps were the only high resolution images available at the onset of the spill and spread all over the world media because access to airspace was restricted and planes could not capture aerial photos using traditional methods.

Sunlight Foundation just posted a very good video feature on PLOTS. It’s worth watching and reading the entire piece if you have a few minutes. PLOTS website is also a treasure trove of cool technology capturing stellar images.

At the very least, I expect one client event activation in the next 6 months to include kite- or balloon-mounted cameras. That’s a dare!